When the casual up-scale Hyatt Place opens its doors to the public this fall on Vilano Beach, Historic City News has learned that the onsite dining and accompanying rooftop bar will be under the operation of a familiar face to the St Augustine business and dining community, Chef Michael Lugo.
Over the past 16-years, Chef Lugo won favor for his signature steaks and tapas served at Michael’s — formerly known as The Tasting Room Contemporary Spanish Restaurant on Cuna Street. With nightly musical entertainment and seasonal entrees, paired with one-of-a-kind desserts in partnership with local chocolatier, Nils Rowland, and an extensive 400-label wine selection, Lugo built a very enviable reputation for himself.
“The Vilano Beach area has always attracted us because it has such a central location,” Lugo said, following his announcement earlier this month on social media and a press release yesterday. Lugo likes the idea of starting a new restaurant where he can draw from the entire region. “You have to be around where tourists and locals can drive in and out. It’s at the end of A1A where people can come from Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra, or St. Augustine. All the areas kind of converge there. It has great access to the waterways. It really was a good next step for us from downtown.”
To be named “Pesca by Michael’s”, the new restaurant will combine Latin flavors with Florida’s coastal influence. Chef Lugo says the opportunity to open a restaurant in The Hyatt Place at the heart of Vilano Beach Main Street seemed to be the perfect fit for this new venture. The word “pesca” in Spanish translates to “fishing” and is taken from the name of one of Lugo’s favorite restaurants in his native Puerto Rico. The hotel will have a banquet room for weddings and events, which we will be catered by Lugo’s team.
Among the dishes planned are escabeche with pickled rainbow carrots, cauliflower, peppers, onions and shishito peppers; scallop crudo with hazelnut salsa macha, mint, and orange segments; and a seasonal selection of oysters, grilled lobster, filet mignon, lamb chops and burgers. Lugo plans to work toward a “Fresh from Florida” designation from the Department of Agriculture by sourcing local ingredients when possible.